Last week HTC published a list of phones that will receive an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, along with approximate launch dates and a projected completion date of late August 2012. This is not a very encouraging prospect considering Google officially introduced ICS last October. Also because Android’s next major revision codenamed Jelly Bean will be close to release by then (slated for Q3/12).
But this is not an issue with HTC phones exclusively. In fact, Ice Cream Sandwich is more the exception rather than the rule on Android devices across the board. Theres a total of four smartphones shipping with the OS preloaded, just over a dozen with upgrades available, and more than 30 on the coming soon list (also: see a list of Android 4.0 ICS highlights).
Your choices here are limited to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was released in December in partnership with Google and features an unskinned version of Android 4.0, and the HTC One lineup comprising the One S on T-Mobile, One X on ATT, and Evo 4G LTE on Sprint. These are soon to be joined by the Samsung Galaxy S III, which is expected to launch globally soon, including all four major carriers in the US.
These smartphones are already being upgraded to Android 4.0. If you own one of these and are still waiting for the update to come through, keep in mind that theyre being rolled out over a period of several weeks.
Galaxy S II (unlocked, Canada)
Galaxy S II LTE (unlocked, Canada)
Xperia arc S
Sensation 4G (T-Mo, Bell, Virgin Ca.)
Galaxy Note (unlocked)
Xperia neo V
Nexus S 4G (Sprint)
Nexus S (unlocked)
Amaze 4G (T-Mobile)
Raider 4G (Bell Canada)
Not all phone manufacturers are offering specific details as to when each of their devices are getting upgraded to Android 4.0. Motorola is only listing them by quarter, while HTC recently provided a two-month release window, and Sony is being a little more specific with the next round of updates starting this week and continuing throughout June into the third quarter. Samsung is not giving out any dates whatsoever.
HTC notes that due to localization, testing, and partner approvals, updates do not roll out to all devices at the same time. For devices on a wide variety of carriers and in many countries, rollouts can take up to 45 days from the initial update to reach everyone. You can manually check for updates by going to SettingsAboutSoftware Updates if you are not prompted to update automatically.
The upgrade to Android 4.0 will include Sense 3.6, not Sense 4, since some aspects of Sense 4 require dedicated hardware, which is not available on all devices.
To date, the only Motorola device that has been upgraded to Android 4.0 is the WiFi-only XOOM (and only the versions in the US or Canada). The company outlined their 4-step updating process back in December and plans to start rolling out a few of those soon. Regarding the selection of phones that qualify for updates and the ones that dont, Motorola has this to say: Obviously we want the new release to improve our devices. If we determine that cant be donewell then, were not able to upgrade that particular device.
Samsung has been at the forefront of the move from 2.3 to 4.0, rolling Ice Cream Sandwich out to a number of unlocked devices, including the hugely popular Galaxy S II. Unfortunately, updates to branded devices tend to get held up in carrier-specific testing so a lot of users with subsidized phones are still waiting their turn. Making matters worst neither Samsung nor carriers are sharing a timeframe for the update.
Sony has been pretty forthcoming about its Ice Cream Sandwich rollout and so far theyve mostly kept true to their planned upgrade schedule. Just recently they started rolling out updates for two of their 2011 devices and more should follow throughout the week and over the next month. Notably, the Xperia Play will be the only Xperia phone from last years lineup not getting the update, as Sony cited stability and consistency issues.
Sony is rolling out Android 4.0.4 to its devices while remaining on kernel 2.6.32 technically, ICS should feature Kernel 3.0.X+. Its unclear if this will result in any issues or missing features. A developer for Sony Ericsson had previously said that it takes a lot of testing and validation to make a new kernel stable, so they decided to keep the tried and tested 2.6.32 kernel to release ICS as quickly as possible.
If theres one lesson to learn here is that you should buy a phone that makes you happy today, not one that promises new features with an update that may or may not appear. Granted, thats a valid advice for any consumer electronic purchase, but Android serves as the perfect example for it.
That said, its not unreasonable to want your one-year-old phone to be able to get the latest software update, especially when you know its technically capable of running it. There are many new features to be gained in the transition from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich. Here are a few of the most noteworthy:
UI Improvements: Android 4.0 is based on a new look and feel, the Holo theme, which offers a more consistent experience throughout the OS and makes it easier for users to find those common buttons and actions. Theres also a new Roboto font thats easier on the eye and has a more modern feel.
Multitasking, Widgets, and Folders: Theres a new Recent Apps button that lets users jump from one task to another, and a side-swiping gesture to get rid of apps youre no longer using. Users can also resize widgets to their liking and drag and drop icons on top of each other to create folders.
Contacts and sharing: ICS ditches the old Android 2.3 contact list for one that shows richer profile information, including large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses, and a button for connecting on integrated social networks. Theres also a new NFC peer-to-peer sharing feature that allows users with NFC-capable devices to share apps, contacts, music, videos by touching one phone to another.
Improved speed and full hardware acceleration: Tests have shown significant performance improvements in Android 4.0 when it comes to handling graphics and using the web browser.
Data usage manager: Android 4.0 allows users to monitor total data usage by network type and application, as well as set limits on those data-hungry apps so you dont incur in expensive overage fees.
Various other new features and enhancements: You can access the camera and notifications without unlocking your device first, theres a new face-unlock feature, Wi-Fi direct support to share files between compatible devices, improvements to the camera and video apps, and more.
Lastly, its also worth noting that the lack of timely updates exacerbates Androids fragmentation problem, which makes it that much harder for developers to QA apps. If youve ever wondered why you run into bugs and other unexplained behaviors on Android but not on iOS, well, fragmentation probably played a part on it.
Article source: http://www.techspot.com/guides/534-android-40-ics-availability/